Even before we've sat down to Thanksgiving dinner, the Bay Area starts its transformation into a magical winter wonderland of Christmas lights and Christmas trees. From Jack London Square in Oakland to Union Square and Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco, massive trees are erected all over the Bay Area and lit up with thousands of twinkling lights, and most of them include a party and other Christmas events to mark the occasion. So if you want to see Christmas lights in the Bay Area, get ready to “ooh” and “ahh” at these lit up Bay Area landmarks that create the most picturesque light displays during the holiday season. And don't forget to hit an ice skating rink along the way.
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Christmas in San Francisco
Christmas lights in the Bay Area
A 55-foot-tall tree covered in more than 5,000 sparkling lights and 600 ornaments is just the start of Oakland’s holiday festivities. Bring the whole family for live holiday music, Santa Claus, hot chocolate, treats and more.
Tree-lighting ceremony: Nov 22 at 5pm
Sing the carols of the season and ooh and aah as a 60-foot tree with ornaments, bows and twinkling lights (synchronized to holiday music) is illuminated on the waterfront. You can even visit with Santa, assuming you've been good.
Tree-lighting ceremony: Nightly Nov 27–Jan 5
Behold Macy’s annual gift to the city of San Francisco: an 83-foot tree decorated with more than 43,000 energy-efficient LED lights and 700 shining ornaments. Battle the crowds to see performances by the San Francisco Boys’ Chorus and the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir at the great tree-lighting ceremony.
Tree-lighting ceremony: Nov 29 at 5:30pm
The annual tree-lighting ceremony at Ghirardelli Square comes with Santa, snow(!), and lots of Irish coffee and hot chocolate.
Tree-lighting ceremony: Nov 29 at 4pm
Celebrate the festive season with live music, tap dancing, and free cookies with cider at the Alameda South Shore Center.The Merrie Olde Christmas Carolers will kick-off the event singing in front of the tree. After a live Christmas jazz performance by Al Marshall Trio, Santa Claus will start his countdown for the tree lighting, followed by performances by Alameda’s The Tap Dancing Christmas Trees.
Tree-lighting ceremony: Nov 29 at 3pm